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Government to take six months to decide on Site C project

The area of the Peace River where the proposed Site C hydro development dam would be built near Fort St. John, B.C., on Jan. 17, 2013.

Deborah Baic/The Globe and Mail

The release of a report on the proposed Site C power project in Northern B.C. will send the federal and provincial governments into six months of reflection on whether to approve the $7.9-billion dam that was proposed decades ago.

The B.C. government said Thursday it has six months to make a decision and will first consult the First Nations community that stands to be harshly affected as the project floods territories used for hunting and fishing.

Premier Christy Clark has previously expressed support for the proposal to build an earthen dam and 1,100-megawatt hydroelectric generating station on the Peace River in Northern B.C.

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However, Energy Minister Bill Bennett told reporters in Victoria that government will gather information to make a decision. Mr. Bennett has said his ministry will take until late October to decide whether to proceed, and then that recommendation will go before cabinet.

Site C would be the third in a series of dams built on the Peace River since 1967. A second dam was completed 23 kilometres from the first dam in 1980.

While Mr. Bennett met the media, federal Environment Minister Leona Aglukkaq kept a lower profile.

"The minister will carefully review and consider the panel's findings. It would not be appropriate to comment further at this point.," spokesperson Ted Laking said in an e-mail.

Lucille Jamault, manager of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency, said in an e-mail that the project cannot proceed without the authorization of both levels of government as well as all necessary permits.

Both governments are likely to be lobbied by the First Nations community, environmentalists and others opposed to the project – many of whom seized on contradictory statements in the report.

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About the Author
B.C. reporter

Ian Bailey is a Vancouver-based reporter for The Globe and Mail.  He covers politics and general news. Prior to arriving at The Globe and Mail, he reported from Toronto and St. John’s for The Canadian Press.  He has also covered British Columbia for CP, The National Post and The Province. More

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